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The Ghosts of Johnson City

~ Venue: Port City Blue, Portland, ME ~ January 29, 2016 ~

Mar 15, 2016

We walked in on a cold winter night and found a table up front. The five band members came in and set up, looking like lumberjacks fresh from the woods in their knitted hats and flannel shirts. The waitress took our order and the crowd trickled in until the place was packed. I wished the table behind us would have shut up, they wouldn't stop yapping.

Ahh, then it began! The room was filled with a powerful, masculine sound by way of standup bass, harmonium, baritone ukelele and guitar, and vocals by Doug Porter, Erik Neilson, Erik Winter, and Ian Riley. Amos Libby sang lead, played banjo and guitar, and explained the origins of the songs.

Some of them were traditional, and many were originals which they wrote after researching tragic historical stories. I got chills from their 19th century minor-key wail of sorrow. Most of the songs were about mining tragedies, or grisly murders. At one point Amos quipped, “Somebody ought to get a pencil and keep a body count.” By the end of their set over three hundred people were snuffed out. They just nailed songs like “Darlin' Corey,” made famous by Doc Watson. Their performance was riveting. I plan to see them again at Blue on the 25th of March. I can't wait! They should be selling their CDs, so you should come and support this unique band and support local music.

Photo used with permission

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